Improved 3G network coverage, wider handset availability and new flat-rate pricing models are about to spur rapid adoption of mobile Internet services in Europe, according to analyst firm Forrester Research Inc.
In a new Forrester report published this week, the number of people in Western Europe accessing Internet services using their mobile phone is predicted to triple to reach 125 million by 2013. In some countries, including the U.K., adoption will be even faster, predicts Forrester.
By 2013, a quarter of consumers will have 3.5G-enabled phone, Forrester said. In two years' time, the number of GDM or GPRS phones will be overtaken by 3.5G handsets. The U.K. would be one of the quickest countries to adopt 3G, Forrester predicted.
"The mobile Internet is finally reaching a tipping point," said Forrester analyst Pete Nuthall.
Currently, under half of 3G phone owners use mobile Internet on their phone. "To drive the mobile Internet, operators will need to push flat-rate data plans, increase the number of relevant services and applications, and introduce new devices that provide a better user experience."
A major issue in mobile Internet is establishing common standards between service providers. In December, IDC predicted that the advent of mobile broadband this year would push mobile network operators to open their networks to a wide range of devices, not just those offered by the carriers themselves. It added that there would be an explosion in the use of several different Web gadgets that would "bridge the gap between PCs and smart phones."
A month earlier, Tim Berners-Lee, the "father of the Internet," said the mobile Internet should be kept as open as the Web, with providers sticking to as yet undecided standards rather than taking proprietary approaches.
Forrester interviewed 22,000 consumers across seven European countries, including the U.K., as well as questioning 16 mobile operators, to compile the report.